Minister Schafer appeals to schools to complete textbook orders on time for 2018
Principals have one week left to ensure that they have ordered sufficient textbooks for the 2018 academic year. The Western Cape Education Department opened the online ordering system for textbook procurement for the 2018 school year on the 29th May 2017. The system will close on Friday 9th June 2017.
While this may seem early, the WCED wants to ensure that schools have ample opportunity to assess their needs and order textbook top-ups well in advance so as to ensure that all learners, to their knowledge, will have textbooks for each subject in 2018.
The Western Cape is the only Province in the country with an online ordering system for textbook procurement - launched in 2012. The electronic system was implemented to increase the efficiency of the textbook procurement process, allowing the WCED to monitor textbook orders, deliveries and shortages.
At the start of every school year, various schools report textbook shortages due to learner growth, subject changes and/or non-retrieval of textbooks from the previous year.
Unexpected shortages such as this are sometimes unavoidable. We can predict learner growth, where possible. However sudden population relocations and subject changes cannot always be predicted. It is our intention, however, to ensure that we can plan ahead as far as possible, and at least ensure that the bulk of our textbooks are ordered timeously so that any changes or additions by schools can still be made ahead of the new school year.
A circular was sent to schools at the beginning of May 2017 requesting principals to:
a) establish their anticipated grade-by-grade learner enrolment for 2018;
b) estimate the expected number of additional learners at the beginning of 2018 based on trends over recent years, and
c) the expected retention of current textbooks at the end of 2017.
Schools have received a notice on how the procurement process for 2018 will be administered, with the relevant dates, deadlines and processes and financing options.
If schools do not have sufficient norms and standards funding available to purchase top-up and growth textbooks, schools can apply to the WCED for financial assistance.
Once the orders have been completed, this will allow the WCED to check if any schools have not completed their orders and to check if there could be any imbalances with regards to orders and expected growth at some schools.
The WCED will order additional textbooks to counter, where possible, unexpected growth, however, we encourage schools to report these shortages as soon as possible so that either additional orders can be made, or the WCED can deliver on demand using the established stockpile for unexpected growth.
Schools need to implement adequate systems to retrieve textbooks at the end of each year. Schools have a target to retrieve 95% of textbooks and cover the costs of the remaining 5% from norms and standards funding.
It is unfortunate that many learners do not return their textbooks at the end of the year, which means that more money must be spent on replacing books. This is irresponsible and inconsiderate.
It is therefore advisable that schools put plans in place now to retrieve the textbooks that are in use during the 2017 academic year. They should aim to retrieve as many as possible, if not all books, so as to minimise the top-ups that need to be ordered at the end of the year.
I appeal to schools to ensure that they place their textbook orders before Friday 9th June 2017. I also appeal to schools to take the process of textbook retrieval seriously and learners and their parents to take responsibility for keeping their books safe and in good condition, and to adhere to the deadlines for ordering set by the WCED.
We would like to ensure that the textbooks ordered are delivered to schools by October 2017, which will give schools enough time to report any incorrect deliveries, shortages or errors before the end of the school year, as well as complete their arrangements for book distribution within their school.
It is vital that we succeed in this process to ensure that all our learners are properly equipped for the new school year.